Quack, Quack, Quack
The Sellers of Nostrums in Prints, Posters, Ephemera, & Books
Distributed for Winterhouse Editions
The earliest quacks, we see, dressed elaborately, inflated their credentials, and embraced an extravagant vocabulary to market their panaceas, at times claiming their pills and salves would cure all disease. They were succeeded in short order by the makers of proprietary medicines, many of whom adopted quack-style promotional methods while introducing new ones of their own. These vendors advertised widely—often with celebrity testimonials—publishing broadsides, posters, pamphlets, and manifestos to amplify their claims.
And though recent strides in medicine mean that most people avoid quacks, and efforts have been made to rid society of patent-medicine makers, the quack survives to the present day, promising to make us all thinner, better-looking, healthier, or more sexually potent. This catalogue—and the 2002 New York City Grolier Club exhibition it originally accompanied—are fascinating reminders of how long such promises have been with us, and in how many unique and scintillating ways they've been made.